BARDOT: An Intimate Portrait by Jeffrey Robinson

BARDOT: An Intimate Portrait

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Affectionate, workmanlike, but disappointing biography of the woman aptly described by Roger Vadim as ""Eve before God lost his temper in the Garden of Eden."" As much a sociological event as a movie star, Brigitte Bardot transformed modern notions of sex as a subject for movies and as a paradigm for existence. Her mentors, particularly director and first husband Vadim, certainly helped to create the Bardot phenomenon. But Robinson (Yamani, 1989, etc.) shows that the actress's fame arose primarily from the force of her stunning yet simple beauty and her complex yet innocent nature. Unfortunately, his unambitious book does little to elucidate her character. In fairly pedestrian prose, he covers Bardot's life from her birth in Paris in 1934 to her quiet existence today in St. Tropez and her controversial marriage to Bernard d'Ormale, who is associated with ultranationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen. Robinson delineates Bardot's wildly dichotomous personality, her naive narcissism, her many lovers and husbands, her heartfelt advocacy of animal rights, and the relentless harassment she endured from the media and fans alike. Most of the events described in the book are interesting. Some, such as the relentless publicity surrounding her pregnancy in 1959 (journalists even tried bribing doctors to let them into the delivery room), are horrifying. Yet all but the most avid fans will eventually find Robinson's narrative tedious and repetitious. What little analysis there is -- a discussion of French women's use of sex as a weapon, the claim that Bardot was the unwitting forebear of the women's movement -- proves fleeting and shallow. Similarly, the author provides no insight into Bardot's films, not even ones as famous as Vadim's And God Created Woman and Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin-F‚minin. Despite his best efforts to the contrary, Robinson leaves one feeling that perhaps there really is no more to Bardot than meets the eye.

Pub Date: June 5th, 1995
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Donald Fine